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Daily Life in Ancient Egypt

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Most were nobles who had great wealth, fine homes, and plenty of time to socialize ... They decorated the wrapped body, or mummy, with jewelry and protective charms ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Daily Life in Ancient Egypt


1
Daily Life in Ancient Egypt
  • History Alive! Chapter 9, pp. 81-93

2
9.1 Introduction
  • Life for the Egyptians during the New
    Kingdomabout 1600 to 1100 B.C.E.
  • When the Nile River flooded, all of Egypt
    celebrated the Opet Festival, honoring the
    pharaoh and his patron, the god Amon-Re
  • Almost everyone took part in the festival
  • Priests decorated a statue of the god with
    jewelry--they put the statue in a shrine and
    placed it on a barque, a ceremonial boat
  • The boat was made by artisans

3
  • High government officials competed for the honor
    of carrying the barque on poles through town
  • Peasant farmers lined the streets to watch the
    procession
  • Scribes made a written record of the celebration
  • All of these people belonged to very different
    social classes, which made up a social pyramid
    with the pharaoh at the top and the peasants at
    the bottom

4
9.2 Ancient Egypts Social Pyramid
  • Egyptian society was structured like a pyramid
  • At the very top was the pharaoh, Egypts supreme
    ruler
  • The classes near the top of the pyramid had the
    fewest people and enjoyed the highest status
  • The classes nearer the bottom had more people and
    lower status
  • Government officials and priests belonged to the
    top two classes in the social pyramid under the
    pharaoh
  • They were the most powerful groups in Egypt

5
  • Government officials carried out the orders of
    the pharaoh
  • Most of them came from noble families
  • They were powerful and wealthy, and they enjoyed
    a high quality of life
  • Priests were also a powerful group, because
    religion touched every part of peoples daily
    lives
  • They were in charge of the temples and religious
    rituals
  • They also oversaw the important ceremonies
    surrounding death and burial
  • Next on the social pyramid were scribes
  • They held a respected position in society
  • They recorded information for government and
    religious leaders.
  • It took many years of schooling to become a scribe

6
  • Artisans occupied the next layer of the social
    pyramid
  • This group included craftspeople like carpenters,
    metalworkers, painters, sculptors, and stone
    carvers
  • They had little social status
  • At the bottom of the social pyramid were the
    peasants
  • They were the largest social class
  • They worked the land, providing Egypt with a
    steady food supply
  • When not farming, they worked on the pharaohs
    massive building projects

7
Life in Egypts Social Classes
  • Egypts social pyramid was fairly rigid
  • People usually belonged to the same social class
    as their parents
  • Most people had little chance to move to a higher
    class
  • Egyptians in all social classes cherished family
    life
  • Most Egyptians married within their social group
  • Children were highly valued
  • Men and women had different roles within the
    family
  • Men were the heads of their households
  • They worked to support the family
  • Fathers often trained their sons from an early
    age to take on their line of work
  • Women typically managed the home and raised the
    children
  • Noblewomen had servants or slaves to help them
  • Lower-class women had to do the work themselves

8
  • Men were in charge of Egyptian society, but women
    enjoyed more freedom and rights than most women
    in the ancient world
  • They could ask for divorces and represent
    themselves in legal matters
  • Some women in the middle and upper classes worked
    as doctors, government officials, or priestesses
  • Both women and men enjoyed a better quality of
    life the higher they were on the social pyramid
  • The Egyptians believed that their class system
    created a stable, well-ordered society

9
9.3 Government Officials
  • Government officials belonged to the highest
    class on the social pyramid, after the pharaoh
  • Their job was to assist the pharaoh in his or her
    role as a supreme ruler of Egypt
  • They usually came from the pharaohs family or
    other upper-class families
  • Most of them inherited their positions from
    family members
  • Three important officials were the vizier, the
    chief treasurer, and the general of the armies.
    Each had his own duties

10
  • The vizier had more power than anyone except the
    pharaoh.
  • He advised the pharaoh and carried out his
    commands
  • He appointed and supervised most of the other
    government officials
  • He also served as a chief judge for the toughest
    cases
  • He was expected to be fair and not show special
    favor to either side in a dispute
  • They usually wore white, the color of neutrality
  • The chief treasurer looked after the governments
    wealth
  • His main duty was to collect taxes
  • Egypts economy was based on goods rather than
    money.
  • People paid their taxes in grain, cows, cloth,
    silver, and even beer

11
  • After the pharaoh, the general of the armies was
    the top military commander in Egypt
  • He advised the pharaoh in matters of war and
    national security, such as how to protect Egypts
    borders from invaders
  • He also helped the pharaoh make alliances with
    other kingdoms.
  • High government officials led lives of luxury
  • Most were nobles who had great wealth, fine
    homes, and plenty of time to socialize
  • The lavish banquets enjoyed by these wealthy
    Egyptians illustrate their luxurious lifestyle
  • While the guests ate, musicians, dancers, and
    acrobats provided entertainment

12
9.4 Priests
  • Like government officials, priests were powerful
    and highly respected
  • A large network of priests served under the
    pharaoh, who was considered the highest-ranked
    priest of all
  • Priests had different jobs
  • The High Priest advised the pharaoh and oversaw
    all religious ceremonies
  • Temple priests were in charge of the many temples
    scattered throughout Egypt
  • Other priests handled more common concerns and
    requests
  • They gave advice and performed healings

13
  • Women were allowed to be priestesses in Egypt
  • They were generally considered to be equal to
    male priests
  • Their main duty was to oversee temples that were
    devoted to music and dancing
  • Temple priests played an especially important
    role in Egyptian religion
  • Every temple was home to an Egyptian god or gods
  • A temple priests main job was to take care of
    the god
  • A temples god was though to live in a statue
  • The statue was housed in a holy room called a
    sanctuary
  • Only a priest who had purified himself could
    enter to perform his sacred duties

14
  • Priests had a special role to play in burial
    practices
  • Egyptians believed in a life after death
  • They thought the spirits of the dead needed their
    bodies in the afterlife
  • For this reason, they preserved bodies from decay
    through embalming
  • Priests oversaw this sacred work
  • The embalming process had many steps
  • First, the embalmers removed the bodys organs
  • Only the heart was left in the body
  • Egyptians believed that the gods used the hearts
    to judge a dead persons soul
  • The organs were packed in jars to preserve them
  • The organs and body were dried out with a special
    salt called natron
  • After about 70 days, the embalmers washed and
    oiled the body and wrapped it in hundreds of yard
    of linen

15
  • They decorated the wrapped body, or mummy, with
    jewelry and protective charms
  • Often they placed a mask over the head
  • They spread a black, gooey gum over the body and
    wrapped it a final time
  • The mummy was then ready for burial
  • It was placed in a wooden box which was then put
    inside a large stone coffin, called a sarcophagus
  • Not all Egyptians could afford such complicated
    burials

16
9.5 Scribes
  • Scribes were one level below priests in the
    social pyramid
  • They were Egypts official writers and record
    keepers
  • They were highly respected and well paid
  • Most scribes worked for the government others
    worked for priests or nobles
  • Only men were allowed to be scribes
  • They came from all classes of society
  • Becoming a scribe was one of the few ways that
    men could rise above their parents social class

17
  • Boys who wanted to become scribes had to attend
    scribe school
  • The schools were run by priests
  • Most students came from artisan or merchant
    families
  • A very few came from the peasant class
  • Schooling started around the age of five
  • Students typically spent 12 years or more
    learning hieroglyphs, the symbols used in the
    Egyptian system of writing
  • Students had to memorize over 700 heiroglyphs
  • Students in scribe school did not have an easy
    life

18
The Work of the Scribes
  • Ancient Egyptians made all kinds of records, so
    scribes held a variety of jobs
  • They kept records of grain and food supply
  • When a government census counted the people
    living in Egypt, they recorded the results
  • Some scribes calculated and collected taxes
  • Legal scribes recorded court cases and helped
    enforce laws
  • Military scribes kept track of the armys
    soldiers and food supply, and the number of
    enemies killed in battle
  • Every scribe used the same tools
  • Papyrus and sharpened reeds, wood and stone
    tablets

19
9.6 Artisans
  • Below the scribes on the social pyramid were the
    artisans
  • Highly skilled laborers who created some of the
    most beautiful art objects in the ancient world
  • Rarely got the respect they deserved
  • Artisans specialized in any one of a number of
    crafts
  • Workers in this class included carpenters,
    jewelers, leatherworkers, metalworkers, painters,
    potters, sculptors, and weavers
  • They made many beautiful objects, including
    stunning jewelry and elegant furniture

20
  • The most skilled artisans were the stone carvers
  • They produced the statues, engravings, and
    reliefs found in Egyptian temples, tombs, and
    monuments
  • Stone carvers played an important role in tomb
    building
  • They helped equip the tombs with artwork to honor
    and preserve the dead
  • They created statues of the deceased, highly
    detailed wall engravings, and stone coffins

21
The Daily Life and Work of Artisans
  • Artisans were a class in the middle of Egyptian
    society
  • They and their families lived in modest homes
  • They worked side by side in large workshops
  • They usually worked for 10 days at a stretch
    before taking time off
  • They depended entirely on their employers for
    food
  • Pharaohs called upon hundred of artisans at a
    time to work on royal projects
  • They created the fine artwork that often covered
    temples, royal tombs, and other monuments

22
9.7 Peasants
  • Peasants made up the lowest and largest class in
    Egypts social pyramid
  • They were generally considered unskilled laborers
  • They grew the crops that supplied everyone with
    food
  • Peasant life revolved around the Nile River and
    its three seasons
  • The flooding season
  • The planting season
  • The harvest season

23
  • The flooding season lasted from June to September
  • During this time, the Nile overran its banks and
    fertilized the fields
  • While waiting for the waters to go down, farmers
    labored on royal projects
  • In October, the planting season began and farmers
    sowed their fields with seeds
  • The biggest crops were wheat and barley, which
    were used to make bread and beer
  • The harvest season began in March
  • During this time, everyone worked from dawn to
    dusk
  • Peasants often sang songs to make the long hours
    of labor go more quickly

24
The Daily Lives of Peasants
  • Peasants had the fewest comforts of any of the
    social classes
  • Their diets were simple
  • A typical meal might include onions, cucumbers,
    fish, homemade bread, and water or beer
  • Peas and lentils were also common
  • They rarely ate meat
  • In times of famine, they often had to boil tough
    papyrus plants for food
  • Peasants spent most of their lives working

25
  • An important time of year for peasants was the
    end of the harvest season
  • As a reward for their hard work, they were
    allowed to gather up as much leftover grain as
    they could and keep it for food
  • They could also be punished for a poor harvest
  • Farmers had to pay taxes in the form of crops
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